24 Under 24 - 2016 - Matt Polster
Rudy Calderon

Matt Polster | 24 Under 24

#20

Matt Polster

AGE: 23

COUNTRY: United States

POSITION: Midfielder

CLUB: Chicago Fire

YEARS PRO: 2

Polster was selected seventh overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft after flying under the radar at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, and he quickly made a name for himself in the Chicago Fire midfield. The 23-year-old made 30 appearances for Chicago in 2015 and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting behind Orlando City SC's Cyle Larin and San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Fatai Alashe.

Polster has had some struggles in his second year, and battled some injuries, but he's shown a relentless work rate and wide range of passing in his second season as a starter. Oh, and the knack for scoring the occasional goal as well. Veljko Paunovic, a decorated midfielder in his own day, may have a United States national team prospect on his hands should the 23-year-old continue to develop.

What the technical staffers say:

"First thing that comes to mind is hard-working, huge heart, competitive, always someone that you would like to go to battle with – the first guy you would pencil in if you have a must-win game or a game that you know might not always be the prettiest on the tactical or technical parts."

"I really like Matt Polster. He came onto the scene really strongly last year in an underachieving team. This year, I think he's had more of a challenge to break in and show it consistently. He's really ambitious, you can see that he's really hungry to succeed. Now it's having that composure and learning along the way. If he can learn, he's definitely one that can break into the national team on a regular basis and go to Europe. People don't give him enough credit for his passing ability. His engine is one of the top ones. I recall last year watching him against Michael Bradley and I thought he matched him physically in a lot of ways."

"You know what you're going to get – I think that's one of the hardest things in pro sports, is having that continuity in the performance of a player, and you're always going to get that hard-working, hard-nosed, athletic type of player [from Polster]. I believe that tactically he's pretty mature for a young player. He's aware of the game, I feel like he's a student of the game by the way he plays."


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